Leader of the Opposition and Political Leader of the United National Congress is calling on the Government to take decisive action to maintain the safety and security of our citizens as we face this natural disaster. In a statement issued today Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar said the following:
The torrential rains that we have experienced over the past three days and the resultant catastrophic flooding has transformed areas of our country into virtual disaster areas.
The damage that has been caused to our citizens, their homes and their property has been catastrophic and disastrous. The government must act now and forthwith activate the Disasters Measures Act to allow law enforcement and agencies of national security to have the ability to save the lives of our citizens, rescue those marooned and provide safety and security for our citizens who are victims of one of our country’s worst natural disasters.
The rains that we have experienced were predicted but unfortunately absolutely no steps were taken by the government to prevent and avert the suffering and hardship that has been inflicted upon our citizens. The response of the government has been pathetic and overly bureaucratic and has done nothing to assist our citizens whose lives and property are seriously at risk.
No one can dispute that there are serious risks to life, property, security and health. The authorities need the backing of the law to mandatorily evacuate areas immediately in order to save the lives of our citizens, rescue those marooned and provide safety and security for those who are victims of the devastating floods. Law enforcement needs to access those areas that are being looted to protect the property of our citizens and to assist those who may be risking their lives to find places of safety.
I call upon the Government to immediately activate section 2 of the Disasters Measures Act, Chapter 16:50 and call upon Her Excellency the President to declare the following areas Disaster Areas under the Disasters Areas Act, Chap. 16:50:
· Aranguez/Warner Village
· Valsayn/St Joseph
· St Augustine South/Piarco/St Helena
· Kelly Village/Warrenville
· Las Lomas/San Rafael
Such a declaration will allow law enforcement and all agencies of national security to:-
· assume control and regulate communication and transport, supplies of food, water and other necessities and control all water fuel and power installations;
· enter and take possession of any building;
· impose restrictions on entering and leaving those areas; and
· take all measures reasonably necessary to mitigate the effects of the disaster.
The government must now act decisively despite their previous inaction. The lives of our citizens are at risk. All steps need to be taken to rescue our citizens and ensure the safety and comfort of our most vulnerable – especially our children, elderly persons, the homeless, the disabled, sick and infirm. All the resources that are available need to be deployed to the affect areas without delay.
This is not business as usual.